Have you ever asked your child not to talk back… ever answered the petulant “don’t care” with… then you wont care if I throw this toy away… how many times have you said “don’t you tell me no!” …. Usually it is the parent that has to come up with creative ways to make these conversations take a constructive turn and try to instill respect for others balanced with enough self respect to speak your mind and value your own feelings. Not me, Not with my son… after several of these run ins…at the expected ages of somewhere in between 2 and 3ish … one day I softly tell my son… again… that while it is okay to feel anger, it is not okay to express it in such a way that would send a buzz light year action figure sailing through the air at his teen aged hormone enraged sister, who is really too old to be drawn into this pissing match by a toddler… but that is another entry…. His entire face turned red in frustration… his lower lip was shaking knowing he was in control of this ending in a simple time out… or turning into a full fledged meltdown whilst said sister watched with a satisfied smirk… and in that moment I watched that tiny lil cherub face skewed into a demonic expression as he has this battle of wills… I wondered if he was literally biting his tongue to keep from speaking… I had always wondered if that was just an expression… when he whispered the word “smiffbib”… what? i said? I hadn’t understood him… oh wait… because it made no sense and I had never heard this before… “Smiffbib” he said more clearly… “is that all you have to say for yourself?” I asked… puzzled… but impressed that he hadn’t screamed no… or thrown his little body on the floor in a seizure like spasm… “Yes.. that’s it… Smiffbib” and he smiled as he walked over to serve his time out sentence… I knew then… that he had won… I wasn’t sure at what yet.. I mean.. he was doing his time out… he was not spewing hate at his sister… or myself as sometimes toddlers do… He was quietly sitting in timeout for his three minutes and not making a dive for that god forsaken buzz light year that he has been dragging around since birth to save it from being taken away for the rest of the day…. but clearly from his actions…. he was sure he had won…. I have the clarity of mind to take this out he has given me.. and let it go… turning on the sister to remind her she is the older one… and to act like it… and leave the room to finish dishes before the drawn out whine of ” bbbbuuuuutttt Moooommmmmm” has finished escaping her mouth… And completely forget the incident…. MY son however did not…. A few weeks later I am telling him through an exhausted haze my practiced speech of if he doesn’t get out of the bathtub he will catch a cold… all the heat is clearly gone from the water… it is colder than room temperature… and I am holding a towel open for him to come to wrap in and get warm… when he says it again… “Smiffbib”….. What? this time I smile… so the first time wasn’t an accident… I was right… He had concocted something I couldn’t yet understand…. Do you want to catch a cold and go to the doctor? “Smiffbib mom”…. “Son”… exasperated… “don’t make me count”… He doesn’t, he rarely does… he is an extraordinarily well behaved child… we joke about it … its actually a little terrifying… He has never pushed a child in line for the slide… taken a toy from another child… hit … bit…. spit… nothing… the only time he resembles what you would expect from a happy healthy little rascal is all reserved for his sister… who he worships… and follows… and cries for.. and laughs for.. and loves more than I ever thought possible…. She taught him to write his name as a surprise for me… they worked on it for weeks… his name has 18 letters… they sing a song about everything… when they walk around the block together and I have the windows open I can hear them coming… Singing in a war cry kind of march… “Were almost home… Were almost home”! .. They build forts… they play games… They are not both from my womb… but they don’t act like it… and as crazy as a teen can drive a young mother… her relationship with him saves her life more than once …. Smiffbib became a house hold word… it spread from my vocabulary to that of my friends… making several Facebook status updates… It made me angry several times when it was a brush with danger that was met with that response… and made me giggle when overheard in play… Ive heard it given in advice …. “Sometimes you just have to say Smiffbib”… I hear told to another that is worried about what people think about her…. And one time it made me cry… after his surgery… when they took out the tumor… and I was rubbing vitamin E on his little incision in his five year old crook of his neck… “Does that hurt angel boy? I’m so sorry” he was cringing… “Smiffbib”…. It gets retired sometimes… for a year or two… He is highly offended when he hears others use it… It belongs to him … Until the day we bought the domain… He is twelve now… and intends to get it in Webster’s dictionary… Smiffbib has several meanings… it means No, I don’t care, you cant make me, I feel sorry for myself, I have too much pride, This argument is over, I’m at the end of my rope, but what it really means… is I may have to conform… You may think you can domesticate me like some kind of wild animal… and you can force me to behave.. and teach me these rules that I will not break… but you can’t kill my individuality… you can’t squash my spirit… Smiffbib…. The socially acceptable “Fuck you”.
Mar 21 2012